While I’ve been writing about the Dead Space games for The Witching Hour, we’re going to take a break and talk about some other horror games that I love. One of them is The Evil Within, a game from legendary horror developer Shinji Mikami. Shinji Mikami worked at Capcom for several years on, directing games like Resident Evil and its first few sequels. He’s widely considered to be one of the founding fathers for survival-horror in the video game industry.
When he founded Tango Gameworks in 2010, the studio was acquired by ZeniMax Media (parent company of Bethesda Softworks). Their first game was The Evil Within, a game that Shinji wanted to make because he felt there weren’t any true survival-horror games and wanted to direct a game that would truly horrify players. He succeeded.
The Evil Within opens with our three main characters in a police car, driving along through Krimson City when they get a call to investigate a murder. The trio is made up of the following: Sebastian Castellanos, gruff veteran cop and who we’ll be playing as; Joseph Oda, fellow detective and Sebastian’s partner; and finally Juli Kidman, a junior detective. When they arrive at the hospital, things quickly unravel into an utter nightmare. Sebastian then finds himself separated from the others, in a world that makes no logical sense and is filled with horrifying, disgusting monsters.
With Shinji Mikami at the help, this feels very much like a Resident Evil game at times. Not just in the lumbering third-person perspective but also the dialogue, the environments (like safe rooms of a sort, a village in a swamp and terrifying castles) and more all draw from Resident Evil‘s rich history, particularly Resident Evil 4.
The aforementioned monsters? Seriously, they are disgusting. Not since the Dead Space games have I seen enemies in a horror title that are so repulsive are truly horrific and disgusting. Yet Sebastian Castellanos’s reactions to encountering these creatures seem shockingly muted and numb. Bloodthirsty, multi-armed monster woman chases you? “We must all collectively be losing our minds.” Sure thing Sebastian, sure thing.
With all these horrific creatures roaming, it’s a good thing that your arsenal is equally varied. Handguns, shotguns, rifles and even a nifty crossbow let you dish out damage. The crossbow is particularly noteworthy, capable of being fitted with different Agony bolts. One might electrify enemies, while a different kind can poison them. This allows for a lot of different strategy when you are dealing with your enemies.
Careful strategy you will need, as these monsters and puzzles are not only deadly but ammo can also be quite rare, even on normal. Some enemies will even get back up after you’ve seemingly killed them, leading to one of The Evil Within‘s most interesting features: the use of matches. Matches are one of your resources and can be used to burn enemy corpses. Once burned, a monster will never again get up. Keep in mind though, there are far, far more enemies than there are matches, so when should you use them? Until you figure out enemy patterns, it can be tough to say, adding an interesting layer to initial playthroughs.
You’ll be collecting Green Gel from all the enemies you kill and from different jars throughout the game. Using this Green Gel, you can improve your different attributes and give yourself a better chance against the overwhelming odds the game is going to throw your way.
As a side note, there’s a lot of nifty New Game+ stuff, including overpowered weapons. If you’re looking for an absurdly difficult challenge, there’s also AKUMU mode. If you get touched, you die. Have fun. On a secondary side note, I highly recommend picking up the DLCs for The Evil Within. They explain quite a bit of the plot that is left ambiguous throughout the game and help set up the sequel.
The dialogue is definitely cheesy but it’s still enjoyable if you’re not taking that aspect too seriously. While distracting, it works out as there’s plenty else in the game that is extremely serious. The Evil Within has great pacing and the sheer horrific nature of the game design, from the enemies to puzzles to environments, carries it in such a unique way that it’s simply a must for any horror fan, even with its issues. Pour yourself a nice drink and settle down with The Evil Within, an excellent game that is well worth playing this October.